Time now for men to take a firm stand

Editorial

We will take the lead in addressing violence against our mothers, our sisters, our daughters and wives.
The above declaration by the Minister for Religion, Youth and Community Development, Soroi Eoe, at the first national men’s forum on Tuesday in Port Moresby must set the cue for all men and boys in the country.
Speaking at the forum organised specifically for men to address gender-based violence, the minister encouraged men and boys to take action against this scourge on PNG society and not remain as perpetrators and bystanders.
Gender-based violence has so far been discussed mainly by women and the forum involving men was seen as a paradigm shift which should set a new approach to the matter.
Rather than dwelling merely on what men can do to reduce the prevalence of violence against women and girls, the agenda should now be on instilling values to men and boys themselves first.
With a set of high moral values and a sense of self-respect men can naturally treat others with the same kind of respect.
It has to begin in the home between father and son.
Papua New Guinean women have made a lot of breakthroughs but GBV remains a huge challenge.
Damning media reports on numerous cases of gender-based violence and published studies that have reached international audiences have all painted a shameful picture of the Papua New Guinean male.
A study cited by the Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee of the Consultative Implementation and Monitoring Council shows, for instance, that more than 80 per cent of women in PNG have been victims of some form of violence.
Such reports should be reason enough for Papua New Guinean men to wake up and take affirmative action against gender-based violence because they are the number one perpetrators.
Affirmative action means discussing the matter openly among men and boys and within peer groups. It means encouraging, mentoring and simply being good role models for younger men to emulate.
It could mean not being an indifferent bystander when action should be taken to prevent the neighbour’s wife from being badly beaten.
Men must stand together to say no to violence. We cannot deny that violence begets violence. If Papua New Guinean fathers are to do something about addressing GBV, they must become examples to their sons and young husbands.
This month is also the domestic violence awareness month and the Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee is urging all Papua New Guineans to show their support in the cause to reduce all forms of violence.
The message from the committee is that violence thrives when we are silent and do nothing about it.
The same message was also echoed at the men’s forum on Tuesday where a police officer dealing with GBV daily pointed out that a syndrome of silence presented the biggest challenge to police officers expected to deal with cases of family and sexual violence.
Families and communities do not report offenders and victims keep quiet due to fear and or shame. To loving husbands – and they are in the majority – this ongoing discussion on gender-based violence may sound a little irritating but they themselves will agree that our women and girls are still being subject to violence daily.
The matter has to be discussed time and again until there is a significant change for the better.
There is still a numbing silence that only encourages violence to continue and this must stop.
Men need to step up and break the silence.
There are, however, a lot of outstanding men in towns and villages who have in their own way contributed to awareness against GBV or by promoting positive change in their communities and they ought to be acknowledged for that.
If more such men speak up and take stand against GBV, reducing or even eliminating it in homes and communities would be quite possible. Hopefully in the not-too-distant future we will see a decline in the prevalence of GBV.
That hope really hinges on men taking the lead in saying no to violence against women and girls.
The first men’s forum this week must be a start to more such discussions and importantly, action across the country.

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